Being The Small Business Doctor I spend a lot of time helping small business people to diagnose what's wrong in their businesses. I had published this post some time ago and I figured it's worth a re-post. It seems people can never get enough reminders about the importance of uncovering the source of a problem.
I'm pretty certain that Albert Einstein was a genius. He also had a way with words as evidenced by this quote- "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." I think Einstein was saying something to the effect that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.
Business folks have long pondered how to resolve nagging problems. Many of these problems are self-inflicted and as a result of our tendency to deny it, they're also self-perpetuating. What can we do to stop this vicious cycle? It’s not rocket science, that’s for sure. Consider these ideas:
I see it over and over- people trying everything to fix a problem and getting nowhere. They figure if they're not fixing it right now, they're wasting time. If we spent more time getting to the root of our problems we'd be able to fix them properly- the first time. The amount of money, time and effort that could be saved by solving the real problem is staggering.
Eyes Wide Open
Many folks do seek the root cause of their problems, however many of those people employ the blame it on someone else mantra. When seeking the root cause of a problem, all stones must be turned over and that includes the sacred ones. If you want real answers then you have to look everywhere- yes, that includes looking at YOU!
You Are Not Alone
There's a tendency for people in positions of power to assume responsibility for problem-solving. While it's true they have a broader group of stakeholders to serve, it is often those in "the trenches" that have the most valuable insight to share. The process of identifying why things are not working is best not done in a management vacuum. Reach out to the people that know the processes best.
The Forest and the Trees
I agree with Einstein- if you created the problem you are not going to solve it unless you change the way you look at things. Root cause analysis is one way of focusing on the why and it creates objectivity in the problem resolution process. It also takes discipline and a considerable amount of acceptance; if you are not able or willing to take those steps a fresh set of eyes may be the best answer.
Muddled as we are by our egos, fears and the minutiae that surround a situation, it is
sometimes best to bring in an objective third party. I'm not suggesting that you surrender the resolution process to an external party. What I am saying is perhaps you need help in identifying precisely what you need to fix.
Problems are a staple of business- whether we create them, acquire them or stumble upon them, we must first know them. Until we know our enemy, we are not equipped to deal with them.